Men grieve too. They need to grieve, to feel, to rise again after enduring life’s biggest heartbreak. Men need supportive tribes full of understanding dudes who “get it”, just as a grieving mother needs her bereaved besties. What can society do to encourage supportive communities for grieving men? What can we as women do to create a safe space for our men to grieve? How can our men help themselves when they have endured the death of their child?
How can society help?
Society tells our men, “Suck it up. Act like a man. Dry those tears.” They have been conditioned, trained, and lied to since they were young boys. Our men have been made to feel less than manly if they shed tears, express emotions, or show an ounce of sensitivity. They have been stifled and silenced, and then accused of being emotionally unavailable or insensitive. Social media enables our men to connect “these days” and society seems to be more enlightened and willing to raise caring, sensitive, emotionally aware young men. This is so very important as at least 1 in 4 will grow up to become bereaved fathers who will need to be heavily armed with support and self-awareness. How can society help? Stop saying, “Suck it up. Act like a man. Dry those tears.” and start saying, “Keep sharing your story. Keep acting human. Keep crying with us.” Reach out to the grieving fathers who are screaming in silence, “Me too! I grieve too!” Send them uplifting messages. Encourage them to talk about their child with you. Acknowledge their pain, their hurt.
How can women help?
Men think that they want to fix our broken mama hearts. Ha, they have no idea how much we want to help them through their grief journey as their wives, sisters, or mothers. We know that they have been emotionally stifled by society yet long to express their anguish, too. We know that they want and need support, but they may not want others to know it. How can women help the grieving men in their lives? Keep trying, keep prying, keep praying. Keep encouraging his emotional expression. Keep sharing unsolicited books and resources with him. Keep asking what he needs. Keep remembering his child with him.
How can men help themselves?
Men, you can help yourself by going against everything society has taught you about emotional expression. Start asking others for help. Share your pain. Let it out. Express your heart and hurt. Search for your tribe and connect with other men just like you who are grieving the death of their child, wanting to rebuild the world that came crashing down, and longing to protect their family, even when they feel so damn powerless and grief-stricken. Keep remembering your child. Let the world know that you grieve too. Men grieve too. Let yourself feel. Let yourself fail. Let yourself fall. Then watch yourself soar, even with broken wings.
Follow other hurting, healing, helpful men:
Sam Dudley– Father to Christian, husband to Carly Marie Dudley, co-creator of the Bereaved Father’s Day movie
Tom Mitchell– Father to Cheyenne, renegade punk rocker with a passion for kicking childhood cancer’s ass, www.StillBrave.org
BJ McCartney– Father to Jonah, blogger at Diary of an Almost Father